Square Lake Reflections (Western Arthur Range, Southwest National Park)

The Western Arthurs are famous for being one of the most beautiful and dangerous mountain ranges in Australia. Situated in Tasmania’s Southwest National Park World Heritage Area, the trek to the Western Arthurs begins at Scott’s Peak Dam. A full traverse of the Western Arthur Range takes about a week, but many people, including myself, only venture as far as Lake Oberon and then turn around, avoiding the most dangerous and technically difficult rock climbing sections. Square Lake is the last point of interest before reaching Lake Oberon. Tasmania’s renowned wilderness photographer, Peter Dombrovskis, died on Mt. Hayes, the highest peak of the Western Arthur Range.

 

 

Print Code: SWWAR3 | Sizes Available: A5, A4, A3

 


Photographer’s Reflection:

 

“You [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)

 

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress. I will never be shaken…Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah.” (Psalm 62:1-2,8)

 

I seek to do the Lord’s will at all times. And when it comes to photography backpacking trips, I always seek his direction, for venturing alone into the remote, alpine wilderness for multiple days comes with many inherent risks.

 

I had earnestly sought the Lord about going alone for four days into the Western Arthur Range in Tasmania’s Southwest National Park World Heritage Area. The Western Arthurs can be particularly dangerous in any season, not just because of its difficult rock climbing sections but also because of its vulnerability to the wild weather coming off the Southern Ocean. I have a vivid memory of ‘running’ (insofar as one can ‘run’ with a 29 kg (64 lb) backpack strapped to their back) across the backbone of the Western Arthurs to escape a snowstorm unleashing 100+ kph (62+ mph) winds into the range. This was in the height of summer.

 

After prayer, I felt directed by the Lord to go; therefore, I knew that God would keep me safe and my journey would have purpose.

 

However, if I was to be completely honest, I still felt a bit apprehensive about the trip. I would be alone for four days in the remote wilderness, not knowing if anyone else would be out there. I did not have access to an EPIRB for this trip, and although I had walked alone in the Western Arthurs before, I would be travelling over new sections I had not yet travelled before. However, I did have sufficient experience and was thoroughly prepared. I had also consulted much information and the advice of highly experienced bushwalkers who had done the Western Arthurs multiple times (who assured me I would be alright to Lake Oberon), so I was fully informed of the challenges and risks that lay ahead and felt responsibly prepared to meet them.

 

I TRUST YOU LORD.

 

I headed out the Port Davey Track, and after slogging through four hours of deep M-U-D (the sure sign you’re in southwest Tasmania), I hit Alpha Moraine, an 800m (0.5 mile) altitude gain over 2 km (1.25 miles). After getting on top of the range and making it over Mt. Hayes, the highest peak in the Western Arthurs, I began a very steep descent.

 

It was here that I ran into a bit of a crisis that nearly made me abandon my photography trip.

 

I found myself standing at the top of a small slab of slippery, wet granite slanting steeply downward. At the end of the slab was a 1.5m (4.5 ft) drop off, immediately followed by a steep descent of loose scree. If I slipped and fell I probably would not stop tumbling for at least a hundred metres or more.

 

Sheer rock faces hemmed me in on either side, and there was no alternate route. The granite was too slippery to descend, and the 1.5m drop off was too high for me to shimmy myself down. I also feared that any momentum of my huge pack coming down off the drop off could send me hurtling down the mountain.

 

It was only a tiny, difficult section, but I was completely stuck between a rock and a hard place!

 

I looked at the late afternoon light falling on the mountains, and it distressed me. I was under time pressure to make it to a safe, sheltered camp spot before nightfall. If I chose to continue but injured myself, I could die of exposure overnight because I knew there was nobody else around. In fact, I hadn’t seen anybody for two days except for one walker who had given up and turned around because the track had gotten too difficult for him.

 

But if I chose to continue and made it safely through this tough section, would I be able to get back up again on my way out? How would I lift my 29 kg backpack up a drop off that was nearly as tall as I was?

 

The track hadn’t been that difficult or dangerous so far, but it was getting more technically difficult the further I continued. What if I got stuck in an even more difficult place further on and found myself stranded on the mountaintops overnight?

 

I had to make a choice, and I had to make it now—for I only had enough time to either make it safely to my intended camp spot at Square Lake OR to turn around, abandon my photography trip and head back to Lake Cygnus camp spot before I would start to lose daylight.

 

Tears filled my eyes because I had already invested so much effort to get here, and now I was well and truly stuck. 

 

I cried out to God: 

 

“Lord, what do I do? I could die if I continue. But, Lord, if I turn around, then I will lose everything I have come this far for. I believe you led me out here for a purpose, but certainly it isn’t just to get this far only to turn around.”

 

As I cried out to God from the depths of my soul for wisdom and guidance, I trusted in his promise:

 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

 

In the midst of that crisis prayer, I cried out to God for wisdom and knew with all my heart he would give it to me. I felt the Spirit of the Lord urging me to continue but to take my pack off. Thankfully, after I took it off I was able to safely shimmy myself (and my 29 kg pack, which was the greater challenge) down the drop off without hurtling myself down the steep embankment.

 

But my adventure didn’t end there. A little further on I had to traverse the side of a ‘cliff’. The only trouble was the track wasn’t quite wide enough for me (and my very wide pack) to completely walk on solid ground. Instead, there was a thick section of scoparia (a small, tough, scrubby bush) growing out of the side of the ‘cliff’, and I could see from those who had gone before me that its strong branches were the ‘trail’ I was going to have to walk across. I prayed for safety and tried not to look down at the many metres of air beneath my feet as I carefully chose which branches I was going to have to trust as ‘ground’.

 

Thankfully, that was the last of the difficult sections on my way to Square Lake.

 

I gave all thanks and praise to God when I finally arrived safely and set up camp. After the stress of that afternoon, how relaxing it was to gaze into the perfect reflections in Square Lake knowing that my God had been completely faithful to guide me and help me through all my difficulties into a place of perfect peace and rest.

 

This photo represents two things to me:

 

Firstly, the perfect reflection represents the perfect peace that we can have by trusting God and resting in his presence, even in the midst our earthly trials. It also holds promise for believers’ ultimate peace and rest in heaven. (To learn how to find peace with God and enter into a personal relationship with him, please see “Message”.)

 

In the Bible’s description of heaven, a river flows from the throne of God, and it is perfectly calm, symbolizing his perfect peace and the absence of all turmoil and trouble:

 

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb [Jesus] down the middle of the great street of the city.” (Revelation 22:1-2)

 

Secondly, in this photograph, the rock represents God to me, for God is often described in the Bible as a strong and immovable rock that stands firm forever (Isaiah 26:4, Psalm 18:2, 1 Peter 2:6). When trials come and everything in our life is being shaken, he is the Rock that cannot be shaken. And as we trust in him, we will never be shaken.

 

“You [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)

 

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress. I will never be shaken…Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah.” (Psalm 62:1-2,8)

 

“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.” (Psalm 125:1)

 

To read the rest of my journey, please see:

 

Above Lake Cygnus (Western Arthur Range – TASMANIA)

 

 

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